Saddle Up! could not operate without the dedicated help of an army of volunteers from our community. There are numerous positions that require a wide variety of talents. The areas marked with (*) will require prior experience or training that is provided for you.
If you are interested in volunteering at Saddle Up!, the way to begin is to attend our training session for new volunteers. All Volunteers must attend a New Volunteer Training session before beginning participation in any of the below listed opportunities. The dates and times for training sessions are listed on the Calendar section of this website and everyone must pre-register so we can plan for the group size. Training session group sizes are limited.
To register for a training session, please contact Kim Kline, our Volunteer Services Director,
] at 615-794-1150, ext. 23.
Our horses are fed each morning and each evening by 2-3 trained volunteers. The feeders are given a calendar of the feeding schedule. Feeders should be able to make a weekly commitment to their shift. (*Requires some training, and attendance at our Horse Handling Clinic. Must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by a trained volunteer over 18 years old. Prior horse experience is helpful.)
Stable hands take care of the barn chores during lesson times. This includes basic equine care, facility chores and maintenance. We will teach you how to groom our horses. Horses should be ready for the instructors to arrive and begin tacking for lessons. Stalls are cleaned each day. Prior horse experience is helpful. (*Requires some training and attendance at our New Volunteer Training)
Stable Hands may be adults or Junior Volunteers 12 to18 years old. At any given time we may have 20-30 volunteers and 10-15 riders on the farm. With our limited staff, it is impossible for us to directly oversee the activities of all volunteers at all times. Therefore, Saddle Up! requires all Junior volunteers under 16 years old to be directly supervised by a parent at all times while participating in a volunteer activity. This means that a parent must be volunteering in a lesson or stablehand position while their child is volunteering as a stablehand.
Our history has shown a need to have people assigned to each horse that can deliver consistent attention and training for that horse. Without this consistent handling and attention, horses tend to go sour as therapeutic horses. Pony Pals are appointed to ride and/or ground train a designated horse or pony. Each Pony Pal must follow the Conditioning Schedule provided by the Saddle Up! staff as well as the organization Rules and Best Practice procedures for handling the Saddle Up! horses.
You will report directly to the Equine Manager about your horse’s progress and needs. You must be able to make a weekly commitment to your assigned horse and take good detailed notes. Pre-requisite is at least 3 months of consistent volunteer activity as a Riding Team Volunteer or Stablehand before applying to be a Pony Pal. (*Requires training and attendance at the New Volunteer Training, the Leader Training and a meeting with the Equine Manager. Prior horse experience is essential as a Pony Pals skill level must be at or above the level of the horse’s training. Junior volunteers may be eligible if their ground skills and/or riding level matches a horse’s needs)
Consistency in the riding team is very important. When possible, Saddle Up! tries to create and maintain the same team for the session (approximately 16 weeks). A floating Sub will be scheduled to substitute in cases of emergencies.
PATH Registered/Advanced Instructor
A PATH instructor has earned certification from the the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, a nationally recognized organization for therapeutic riding. Instructors must pass a written and performance test to earn this recognition. There are three PATH levels: Registered, Advanced and Master. Instructors review the rider’s file and create individualized goals for each rider. They train their riding team for the rider’s needs and ensures team communication. Instructors have the ultimate responsibility of the entire lesson. They set up lesson plans, conduct the lesson, supervise and assist mounting/dismounting procedures, ensure horses are properly groomed/tacked/warmed-up prior to lessons; maintain safety standards; ensures tack is properly positioned, write progress reports, etc. Instructors have completed CPR and First Aid training.
Associate instructors are currently training to become instructors and work under the guidance of an instructor. They have a list of skills they must be able to demonstrate to become instructors (instructional skills, adaptive techniques, horse care skills, riding skills, etc.).
The main responsibility of the leader is to control the horse during grooming and the lesson. Most riders who have leaders are unable to fully control their horses. It is the leader who must help in guiding, stopping and starting without making the rider feel that they are simply a passenger. The rider must be allowed to do as much as possible with the leader helping only when necessary. Leaders must be able to walk at a fast pace for 30 minutes and jog intermittently during the lesson. (*Leaders typically are volunteers over the age of 16 and should be very comfortable with horses and react calmly if an incident arises. Training required includes the New Volunteer Training and the Leader Training.)
The primary responsibility of a sidewalker (Interactive or Supportive) is to ensure the safety of the rider. This is usually done by walking beside the horse’s girth with one arm poised at the rider’s thigh or the heel. The degree of assistance from the sidewalker will depend on the balance of the rider.
Sidewalkers, who accompany poorly balanced riders, must be a good fit with the height of the horse and be in good physical condition. (*Sidewalkers must be at least 16 years old and able to walk briskly beside a horse for an average of 30 minutes.)
The interactive sidewalker is an extension of the instructor. Interactive sidewalkers talk and interact directly with the rider during grooming and during the lesson. They may be asked to teach the grooming tools and steps, repeat the directions given by the instructor, assist the rider in performing these directions and monitor for specific skills. (*Interactive sidewalkers should be comfortable with the child’s disability, have a minimal understanding of grooming, riding commands and horse parts, and be confident in following the instructor’s directions.)
The supportive sidewalker will not have a verbal role in the lesson, however they will be hands-on with the rider. The supportive sidewalker will focus solely on the rider, ensuring safety during the lesson. The supportive sidewalker will be in different levels of physical contact with the rider, depending on the riders needs. (*NO experience is required.)
A Roustabout works on special projects and one-time events. They may be painting, building, spraying, etc. Groups of Roustabouts come in for special projects that require many hands or can be individuals for general maintenance projects. (We will use the skills you have for this.)
We have filing, data entry, phone calling, etc. that needs to be completed to keep the organization running. We can use your office skills in several areas. Hours will vary and can be flexible around your schedule.
Chuck Wagon Team
There are many times when we recruit volunteers to help out with all day projects at the farm, or ask them to come directly from work and miss an evening meal. As a member of the Chuck Wagon Team you may be called upon to provide a meal for 2-20 volunteers. Commitment is infrequent, perhaps 4 times a year.
Publicity and Communication Support (PR Support)
Saddle Up! needs volunteers with skills or contacts in this area to ensure that communication, PR and community outreach reflect our mission and goals. Areas to be addressed by these volunteers may be:
Developing a PR and Communication plan annually
Contribute to the newsletter, news releases, brochures, and other outreach materials
Ensure adequate education, outreach and PR to the community at large
Create information and training videos
The Development Director needs volunteers with skills and knowledge in the areas of planning and coordinating fundraising efforts that will expand the donor base and generate funds needed to ensure the future of our program. This support team will work directly on fundraising and/or special event committees.